On Wednesday 12th of February 2020, a group of tech & property professionals ‘unplugged’ from the internet.
The purpose of the Unplugged Challenge was to highlight our dependency on being connected and investigate whether there’s a disparity between our conscious and unconscious use of the internet.
Initial feedback for the challenge was mixed, with feelings of ‘anxiety’ and ‘being handicapped’ leading the way. Nevertheless, much to our surprise, the event proved to be a success with the majority of participants successfully completing the challenge. There were only a few hiccups on the way, including the discovery of “apple automatically reconnecting your phone to known WiFi networks”.
When we asked participants before what they’d expect to miss the most they said emails and the use of search engine. Unsurprisingly these came out as the top two, however, they were only ‘the tip of the iceberg’. As Richard Pickering from Cushman & Wakefield highlights;
“If you think about all the apps on your phone that are not going to work, the fact that you need to plan for meetings, access files remotely, share content in meetings, I think probably, I underestimated the extent to which those things are very much engrained to my day to day life.”
The lack of connectivity severely disrupted all parts of their days, with many referencing that the day became harder as a result. That had a visceral knock-on with 91% of participants finding the day ‘stressful’, regardless of preparation. A massive 95% concluded that ‘connectivity is essential’, and without it “doing a day to day job just wouldn’t be feasible”.
Most interestingly, the results showed we spend far more time unaware that we are connected to the internet or relying on it for activities: finding our way around, paying for things and use of devices such as office entry apps or Alexa in the home.
The day importantly also yielded positive personal findings as people noted the amount of distraction because of smartphones and their reliance on social media. If there was a consensus that the internet was vital, then there was clearly a trend towards re-evaluating the relationships we have with the tools that access the internet.
As the level of connectivity only grows, this can only be a good thing.